Austin’s newest upcoming restaurant is a modern Chinese dining destination in the Zilker neighborhood coming this month. Zoé Tong will be opening at 1530 Barton Springs Road starting on Wednesday, November 8.
Co-owners chefs Simone Tong and Matthew Hyland come from notable New York restaurants themselves. Tong ran the beloved Little Tong Noodle Shop and is still the co-owner of acclaimed Chinese American wine restaurant Silver Apricot. Hyland co-founded very popular pizzerias Emily and Emmy Squared. The couple moved to Austin in 2021, making the Texas city their home for them and their family, where they also wanted to open their own restaurant. And with Zoé, the two want to serve what Tong describes as “modern Austin Chinese” food.
The two got to make use of the inherited smoker on the property (back from the address’s days as Uncle Billy’s). This means dishes like sticky barbecue pork ribs made with a char siu sauce atop puffed vermicelli, smoked duck spring rolls made with a netted rice sheet, or the smoked hamachi crudo.
One of the stars of the menu will be the Zoé Tong duck, where the cured-and-dried whole bird’s legs will be confited and the breast lacquered, served alongside sides like smoked duck bone broth (served from a duck-shaped ceramic teapot), an apricot sauce, scallion hominy bings (Chinese tortillas), apples, cucumbers, and pickles.
Per Tong’s noodle roots, there will be pastas. There’s the cold sesame noodles with fried shallots (a favorite of Hyland’s).
There’s also a selection of chuan chuan skewers, where the meats or vegetables are roasted or deep-fried while on the skewers. Options include kabocha squash, shimeji mushrooms, head-on shrimp with sambal, and lamb shoulder.
Other dishes include spicy pecans and cashews; dressed cucumbers with silken tofu, scallion puffed rolls topped with dabs of seaweed butter; a deboned spatchcocked chicken made with an orange sesame glaze; and whole quails stuffed with sticky rice and Chinese sausage.
For sweets, the first soft serve flavor is the black sesame served with raspberry pearls. The couple wants to experiment with other options in the future, such as milk tea and matcha. Then there’s a milk tea creme brulee and the gui hua gao (aka osmanthus royal jelly on the menu) with pumpkin mochi.
Cocktails take on pan-Asian flavors, such as the Si Baby Margarita with tequila, shishito pepper ice, and a Sichuan spiced rim; the Cin-groni with shochu, amaro, and bergamot liqueur; and the Keefer-madness with rum, rye whiskey, an oat milk matcha latte, and pineapple. The nonalcoholic Toody Time is a strawberry-Thai basil lemonade with a citrus soda and sparkling water.
Zoé Tong’s large Barton Springs space had previously been Austin Eastciders’s second taproom in the city, from 2020 to 2023. Before that, it was brewery and restaurant Uncle Billy’s Smokehouse from 2006 to 2019.
The dining room includes several types of seating from large round tables made for communal group eating, long tables and four-person tables. Outside, there’s a shaded patio. The building is adorned with cartoonish murals depicting creatures playing music and cooking with foods and outdoor features.
The restaurant previewed a small selection of its menu during Austin City Limits Music Festival pop-ups, where it had served the ribs, sesame noodles, lamb skewers, and black sesame soft serve.
Rounding out the Zoé Tong team are chef de cuisine Dimitri Voutsinas (formerly of Show Me Pizza and had actually worked with Hyland at Emily back in the day) and general manager Travis Vergara (previously of Terry Black’s in Austin, Z’Tejas, Cantina Laredo, and Blue Corn Harvest).
Zoé Tong will serve will be open for dinner starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. Brunch and lunch hours will be added later. Reservations can be booked now online.